Mildred Pierce: Chicken and a basket case

(Ep.3)  If you were to ask a terse chap to say one pithy word about this week’s Mildred Pierce, he might offer: “depression.” Me? Well I’m not the least bit terse, as a lifetime of snoring chums will aver, but that’ll do me. You see, we’re still in The Depression and Mildred’s life majors in disappointment, bookended by mourning and unhappiness.

Let’s start with the mourning. Last week ended with cuteness & cupcake daughter, Ray Pierce, dying of grippe in a huge and well-staffed hospital that’s empty of other patients. “Grippe” is flu, by the way, which information you will find useful should you ever require the appropriate jab in a big old hospital suspiciously devoid of patient life.

This week we open with lots of achy-breaky heart stuff with ex-husband Bert and  Mildred in the kitchen. We’re also treated to an ominous close up of some Very Sharp Knives indeed. Prophetic or just odd? Who knows, but anything is possible with psychotic older daughter Veda around.

A little later we’re off for a brief spot of funeralising, followed immediately by Mildred visiting a chicken farm. Unworthy thoughts of Ray’s cute & cupcakey body being sold off as animal feed are dispelled when it becomes clear that she’s buying, not selling. Then again, this might be a barter, which would mean Ray returning home as a live and well-fed chicken. 

With that notion in mind, it’s not good timing to visit Mildred’s new chicken and waffle restaurant which is about to open its doors. Wally’s been busy with the electrics and has come with another wizard wheeze: this time of illuminating the pie cabinet. There are now three men in Mildred’s life, the other two being Bert and The Man Who Is Del Monty. It is apparent that those who are not in a carnal relationship with her tend to be decent chaps. Last time we looked, Monty was the only one still raiding Mildred’s oat store…  there may be trouble ahead.

On Mildred’s opening night the whole joint is jumping. At least it is after the obligatory few minutes of finger drumming and tumbleweed rolling metaphorically across the tables. It’s a good job tumbleweed takes so well to being a metaphor because it’s highly flammable and there are a lot of candles about. So anyway the place is rocking but things get a little hectic. Lettie (Mildred’s home help) drops plates, waffles burn and the orders stack up. Panic’s over when Ida – that pal from the LA branch of Betty’s Tea Rooms – marches into the kitchen, dons an apron and takes charge.

Even Veda turns up. Mildred knows this because a waitress tells her that there’s a child demanding tomato juice with celery. This reminds us that, even off screen, Veda’s got Mariah Carey coursing through her diva-ish veins. Ray’ll be in there too after the chicken course. The evening is interrupted by a loud crash. It’s not Lettie dropping the plates again (she’s been banished to the washing up bowl by Ida) but the assembled’s collective jaw dropping when Monty Beragon enters the building. No one knows that Mildred is his current squeeze, but they do know he’s minted and a top draw at the polo club. The effect is akin to George Clooney popping his head round the door and asking to use your loo. After drinking to the success of the night (“We made $46.27”) Monty and Mildred repair to her living room for some sofa action involving feet and petticoats. Veda, who is supposed to be asleep, is watching of course.

Did I mention that Veda now has a piano teacher? This chap thinks she’s got talent in her fingers as well as something in her head. I can tell him what that thing is: it’s a lunatic on a rusty chain. In a creepy scene where she’s made herself up to look like Heath Ledger’s Joker, Veda’s violent reaction to a Christmas present (it’s not the piano she was expecting) is something to behold. Monty, by now Veda’s hero and confidante, has given the game away. During the slapfest that follows, Mildred informs her that she’s been paying all his bills, including those polo subs. It turns out that Monty’s fruity business came unpeeled when his workers got the pip. Trouble is that he’s not the “pick your own” kind of playboy, being rather more suited to enjoying the “dole” part of indolent.

And so it is that Monty’s wealth is now the mint with the hole, which means his polo days are numbered. Now a chap that can’t pay his way is a chap with low self esteem and trouble is soon afoot. After much pre- and post-rumpy-pumpy rumpus (think of Monty as a priapic Bertie Wooster) Mildred tears herself from his fevered embrace. Careering from his mansion (The Man Who Was Del Monty is down to his last one) and out into the teeth of a high-budget storm, she promptly drives into a flooded ditch.

Delivered home by the police as the dampest of packages, Mildred stalks past her daughter muttering: “You’ll get your piano tomorrow.”

Next week: Flame-haired temptress Veda embraces adult depravity and gives it the full Rebekah.

Posted by Corumba Love

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